Best Friends

Our driver’s funeral service was today. Afterward, I spent time away from everything RPM because sometimes I need to breathe and focus on a bigger picture.

But I can never really escape the dogs. Debby and I went to one of my favorite shops, Body Mind and Soul, where I found bracelets made by Chavez for Charity. The two bracelets I picked out benefited Best Friends Animal Society. It seemed a nice way to honor Charles Roberts’s commitment to the rescue of animals.

Strut Your Mutt!

Rescued Pets Movement is proud to be part of Best Friends’ annual Strut Your Mutt fundraising event. We’re hoping to stay in first place with our fundraising campaign, and we know we’ll have a lot of fun at the October 15 Strut Your Mutt day in Houston. Come out and join us!

If you can’t join us, you can still donate. This year, I didn’t form my own team. Instead, I donated to Timothy J. Lambert’s team. He would LOVE for you to help him reach his fundraising goal. You can go to his team page and read why this matters to him and even donate by clicking here: Houston: Timothy Lambert.

Thank you for helping us take Houston’s dogs and cats (and so far, two PIGS!) from death row to loving homes. We will always work to save them all!

National Suicide Prevention Week

September 5-11 is National Suicide Prevention Week. Every day I think of our nephew Aaron. I think of all the times we laughed together. I think of his playful nature, his wisdom, his compassion, the food and dogs and books and movies he liked. I think of the many photos his mother shared when we lived so far apart that allowed me to watch him as he grew up. I think of his visits to The Compound as he got older and the cherished place he took among our family and friends. I contemplate how he loved us and protected us, especially his parents, from the truth of the depression that engulfed him.

No matter how much I wish I could, I can never forget the stark truth of his last day and the terrible phone call that began my reality of living in a world without him. He killed himself just before his high school graduation. His friends overflowed his memorial service to say goodbye.

This year we didn’t celebrate his college graduation. We won’t know which career choices he might have made. We won’t see him marry, or hold his first child, or be part of all the celebrations and challenges that every family goes through together. Aaron didn’t take that from us. Depression did.

I wish no parent, no child, no brother or sister, no aunt or uncle, no grandparent, no cousin, no friend would ever have to know this kind of loss.

For more information about recognizing the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, please visit the American Association of Suicidology website. If you are struggling, please visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

We love you, Aaron, and hold your memory in our hearts.

Sad Eyes

These goofballs, with their Margaret Keane eyes. Big dogs on transport day like to turn their butts to my camera because I’m about the least interesting thing happening. But puppies turn on the pathos, like they are having the worst morning ever. In truth, once in their crates on the vans, most puppies either opt for a nice nap or they transform into hilarious little miscreants, playing tug of war or boxing with each other, shredding their puppy pads, or otherwise creating mayhem. The guilt-inducing portraits are just another part of their charm.

You can go here to see all of the Rescued Pets Movement dogs and cats who traveled in June. And I just joined RPM’s 2016 Saving Pets Challenge. If you want to make a donation to my team, the link is here!


Joel had a lot to think about on transport day.

If you want to see what keeps me busy, check out all the dogs and cats who left Houston for better lives in May at Rescued Pets Movement’s transport post.. It takes a lot of hours to maintain the records of 400-700 animals a month. Taking their photos is a bonus. =)

You can help Rescued Pets Movement win $10,000 without donating a penny–just your time in voting. You can get the details by clicking here. Thanks!

Button Sunday

This post has been a while coming, though I can never write all the things I want to about Prince. For me to have bought anything on vinyl in the early to mid-1980s was rare because I was on such a tight budget. Buying music would seriously have been a choice not to buy food. Also, the water leak disaster in one of my college-years houses that left most of my albums unplayable meant I got rid of a lot of them. But I could never have let go of Purple Rain. I have it on CD now, but holding the album in my hands evokes so many memories of all the stereos and apartments and cities where I listened to it and the people who listened to it with me.

I feel fortunate to have lived and been young (and old) and a person who danced and sang along in a time when someone as gifted and unique as Prince was creating music. Not just the music he recorded, but all of his songs that other people covered. I don’t remember the first song I heard Prince sing or saw him perform, but I do have another of those “I remember the first time I heard it” stories.

When I was assistant managing a bookstore, one of our employees was a high school student who worked there afternoons and weekends. She kept telling me about her current music obsession, Sinéad O’Connor. I had no idea who that was; I hadn’t heard any of her music, but Alison was always quoting her lyrics to me. One night I was sitting in Pizza Hut–the place where Tom, Lynne, and I often took Jess and his friends when they were growing boys because of the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet–when a song came on the jukebox. I was mesmerized, something clicked, and I thought, That has to be the singer Alison’s always talking about. And that song is amazing.

It was, of course, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and although Prince didn’t write it for O’Connor, as some people say, she certainly rode it into the stratosphere on her ascent to stardom. I doubt I knew it was a Prince song when I bought her CD I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, I just knew it was a great song.

I also feel fortunate that I live in the days of being able to fall down an Internet hole of online music and video whenever I want to hear or watch a legend like Prince. Nothing compares to him, and I’m sorry for all the unwritten, unrecorded music we’ll never get to hear, but so grateful for the music we have.

Recently, at the Hall, part three

This guy had a birthday. Since it fell on transport day, we had cupcakes there so some of RPM’s amazing volunteers and staff could celebrate with him. And because he’s the compassionate person he is, he asked for only one thing for his birthday: donations to Rescued Pets Movement’s Crowdrise campaign to raise funds to restructure and reopen the Jack C. Alexander clinic after much needed repairs and modifications. If you’re so inclined, you can still show your love for Timothy J. Lambert and the movement to get Houston’s million homeless dogs and cats off the streets, out of the city pound, and into homes in other states where they’re desperately wanted. You can click here to donate or learn more.

A Fragile Circle

Sunday I baked the little clay print that was pressed from Margot’s paw. I know I’ll paint it eventually. Yesterday, Tom picked up her ashes, and the card that came with them from Little Friends Pet Memorial had these words from “The Once Again Prince,” by Irving Townsend, from Separate Lifetimes:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breeched. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan…

Because it’s World AIDS Day, I can’t help but think of the other fragile circles that were formed among those of us who were friends and caregivers of those with HIV and lost to AIDS. Though society may place different values on who we love, our hearts know no such boundaries. We only love. When we lose who we love, our grief likewise knows no boundaries. We only mourn.

I have infinite happy memories of my friends Steve, Jeff, John, Tim, and Pete, but I still miss them, and I’d rather they be here, healthy and alive. Each of them would have loved Margot and mourned her loss with me. But they and my father were early teachers of a truth: I’d rather hurt inside the fragile circle than live outside it and never know what it is to love.

Today, Giving Tuesday, Tom and I contributed to my fundraising campaign for Rescued Pets Movement in our friends’ memory. I’m going to send out a mass email–one of my least favorite things to do–to encourage others to contribute, as well. When my friends were sick and dying against a backdrop of national indifference, I saw again and again what an impact even the smallest act from one compassionate person could have. I also saw the strength my friends drew from their companion animals, who offered love without judgment.

To support an organization that has saved the lives of over ten thousand dogs and cats in two years, giving those animals a chance to be inside the fragile circle with their adopters–I know my lost friends would support a movement that brings more healing and love to our world.

The campaign continues until January 7, 2016 at 1:59:59pm ET , but if RPM raises the most between 12am ET and 11:59:59pm ET today, December 1, they’ll get a $25,000 donation to their cause. You can donate any amount at all to my fundraiser, and if you wish, you can even say in whose memory or honor you’re donating from your own fragile circle.

Thank you.